Ratchet & Clank, Insomniac's first foray onto the Playstation 2, is a charming and whimsical 3D action game with a great sense of humor. Despite being several years old, Ratchet holds up remarkably well and remains as fun to play as when it was first released.
You play, of course, as Ratchet, the fuzzy Lombax protagonist of the series. Sick of being stuck on the backwater planet of Veldin, Ratchet is in the process of building a ship that will take him offworld when the game begins. However, he lacks one crucial part to make his ship functional: a robot navigator. That is where Ratchet's diminutive companion Clank comes in. In return for helping Ratchet leave Veldin, Clank enlists his help in stopping Supreme Executive Chairman Drek's scheme to recreate his polluted planet by stealing pieces of other worlds. Sound silly? Oh, it is. But it's entertaining and keeps the game moving, which is all that matters. I found myself laughing out loud at the hilarity several times.
Game-play wise, Ratchet & Clank is a mixture of traditional 3D platformer and shoot-everything-that-moves action game. You obtain a plethora of destructive (and often zany) weapons to help you blow things up. You'll receive everything from a standard machine gun, to a high-powered sniper rifle, a remote-controlled rocket launcher, a gun that shoots powerful bolts of lightning, and a ray that turns enemies into harmless barnyard critters. Every weapon is a blast (no pun intended) to use, and enemies are oh-so-satisfying to burn into cinders. Ratchet also comes equipped with several gadgets, such as a grappling hook, or a vaccuum that sucks up or spits out water, changing the layout of the level. Occassionally you take direct control of Clank and use miniature robotic minions to solve puzzles and defeat enemies. I really enjoyed those parts, as they provide a nice change of pace from the blasting. Controls are spot-on and a breeze to use, although Ratchet does have a tendency to slide around a bit.
Graphically, Ratchet & Clank still manages to look good. The environments are extraordinarily detailed and colorful (not to mention huge), and the sinister (yet still somehow silly) enemies impress. The animation of Ratchet (and Clank as well) is fluid and smooth, in comparison to the jerky movements of the robotic enemies. The soundtrack is appropriately spacey and reminds me of old cartoons, while the voice acting is top-notch, supported by some truly funny writing. Captain Qwark stands out above all others. I just love to hate him.
There is quite a bit to do after you complete the main game. Doing so unlocks Challenge Mode, which lets you upgrade your weapons to more powerful versions, and the ability to earn skill points by completing various tasks in the game. Getting a certain number of skill points unlocks bonus material and cheats that can be viewed on the pause menu.
Whether you've just completed Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction for the PS3 and want to see where the series began, or if you're just pressed for cash and want a cheap, quality game, check out Ratchet & Clank. It is a refreshing entry into a typically stale genre, and survives the test of time. You won't be disappointed.